Seeing, Believing and Soldiers
It is evident to the careful reader of the Holy Scriptures that a change of focus takes place between the Old and New Testaments. In the Old, those who had fallen both morally (and generally into troublesome circumstances) were those who saw, beheld, or looked upon something appealing to the eyes. Those who followed the right path however, were those who heard, listened or inclined their ears to the Word of the Lord.
We see the dynamic begin to change as we enter into the very first pages of the New Testament, but as the Gospels draw to a close it becomes more explicit. The beloved disciple for example saw and believed at the tomb of Jesus, the apostle Thomas saw and believed that Jesus was his Lord and God, and Cleopas and his companion saw Jesus in the breaking of the bread. In all these cases, while seeing and then believing is not the ideal, it is nonetheless a clear shift from seeing and then sin.
Not all individuals in the New Testament believe after seeing of course, which is troubling to be sure, but not nearly as much as those exemplified by the soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus. These men saw and believed in the reality of their experience, it shook them to the core, but they still found reason enough to keep it to themselves.
Matthew reports it this way:
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. (Matthew 28:11-15)
Their decision after seeing and believing, or what we might call the fullness of possibility, quite literally becomes the anti-gospel. This is because the inner logic of the Good News, which demands to be shared, has been thwarted. And so it is with all of us. To see and believe in Jesus and find reason to keep the Way, the Truth and the Life to ourselves, goes against the very reason for the Gospels and the thrust of the New Testament.
Yet how many of us do this? Our testimony is silenced and very often it is for far less than “…a large sum of money.” We have seen God work amazing things in our lives. We trust and believe in Jesus more than we believe in ourselves. Still, the Good News remains hidden in our own secret communities. Like the soldiers we are living an anti-gospel.
This needs to change, and it can, but it requires each of us speaking to others about Jesus. Let’s tell them what happened to us. Let’s tell them how it shook us to the core and made us want to live differently. And let’s rely on the Spirit; it is after all His specialty.